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Nintendo Switch and the Backward Compatibility Dilemma

So the Nintendo Switch isn’t backwards compatible with 3DS nor the Wii U. Is this a bad thing, though?

Not necessarily. There’s a very good explanation for why this is the case.

3DS: The most obvious reason is the removal of the second screen experience and resistive touchscreen. Yes, they could theoretically emulate them sideways on the Switch portable screen and provided the screen is touch, it could work in theory, but that’s probably just wishful thinking. Besides, capacitive touch isn’t quite as accurate and if the Switch contains ant sort of touch, it’s likely capacitive a la smart devices. The other obvious issue is the game cards appear more SD-like than DS-like from what little we’ve seen.

Wii U: This one should be quite obvious. No disc slot, and even if they managed to put a functioning disc slot into the Switch base, you have to put the screen into the dock to make it work as a home console, so you’d be missing the second screen. The obvious solution? Add GamePad compatibility. The problem still? Nintendo Switch is the most vastly different Nintendo console since the GameCube when it comes to system architecture. GameCube, Wii and Wii U were all modified, and upgraded variants of the same PowerPC architecture, but the Nintendo Switch is an entirely new concept developed with the help and close partnership of Nvidia and to make the console more port and development friendly. This means even running digital copies may not work up to standards for a while, if ever in the first iteration of Switch.

While backwards compatibility is nice, and is absolutely important, Nintendo had to make a decision this time and has a good, perfectly valid excuse.

It was either win third parties back with making the console developer friendly, or keep using the same frustrating architecture for the sake of backward compatibility. It’s an unfortunate sacrifice that Nintendo had to make, and let’s be real… Virtual Console should still work just fine on the custom Tegra chipset being used in the Switch, so all of the classics should theoretically still be supported on the console.

Right now, Nintendo needs third-parties more than backward compatibility.

Let us know your thoughts on the situation! Still interested in the Switch? Does the lack of backward compatibility break it for you? Are you still awaiting more info before making a decision?

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